Photography Opportunities at Tracy Aviary

golden eagle with one wing

This golden eagle is missing a wing, yet he is still beautiful. I have put him on a postcard and a cell phone case.

As a photographer, I found Tracy Aviary to offer some pretty decent photo-taking opportunities. Many of the birds are loose — walking, hopping, flying around — and you can get really close to them. Not much in the way of chicken wire, mesh, or chain-link fence comes between the camera lens and the feathers. A lot of the fences were only three feet tall, so it was easy to shoot over them.

Best Photography Opportunities

The best opportunities for me were most notably the eagles. Next would be the flamingos, pelicans, swans, pigeons, and peacocks. Humming birds were flying all over the place, but they were a challenge to photograph as they are always on the move. I also found a great big spider.

During my visit, an aviary groundskeeper was trimming the grass in the golden eagles pen. So the birds came within five feet of the walkway to avoid the groundskeeper and I was able to get some really nice close-up shots. Several of my pictures made the birds appear as though they could have easily been out in the wild, which is what I was after.

The bald eagles proved to be a little more difficult as they had their backs turned to me at first. But I was patient and waited for a candid moment.

The pelicans were in a large area but were active and playful, moving around a lot. So with a little patience, I was able to get a few decent pictures.

The swans and pigeons were in the same area. The pigeons were perching on a man-made, rock island / cliff. I saw a hen who was sitting on some eggs. There was food you could buy to feed them, but I didn’t buy anything. I didn’t have a quarter on me. Next time I will bring some spare change. The pigeons were beautiful and unusual in appearance. I’m not sure what variety they were. But it would have been nice to be able to feed them and have them come right up to you.

Biggest Disappointments

The flamingos were in a group, busily preening their feathers. My biggest complaint about the flamingos was the bright-green water they were standing in. It was almost disgusting, but that can be fixed in Photoshop.

Unfortunately, I didn’t run into any male peacocks during my visit — only hens and juveniles running loose on the grounds. As I approached one of the hens to take it’s picture, two kids chased the bird away. Otherwise, I could have gotten some great shots.

And I didn’t even attempt to take pictures of the birds that appeared to be in cages or behind thick bars, although I suppose I could have at least tried.


By the way, Tracy Aviary is located in Liberty Park, an 80-acre, public park in Salt Lake, City Utah. The park features a pond with more birds. I saw Canadian geese, a black-crowned night heron, and a big, dark and slender bird that I wasn’t able to identify. As luck would have it, there happened to be a classic car show in the park the day of my visit, so I was able to see some pretty nice automobiles, as well.


So yes, there are a lot of great photography opportunities at Tracy Aviary. In most cases you are not having to look up or look down too much at the birds. You’re looking at them eye to eye, and there is no glass to deal with as can be found in many zoos.

Random Quote Machine

I made this random quote machine for my JavaScript class. I guess it’s pretty basic, but it’s one of the coolest things I’ve learned so far. Each time you refresh the page, you’ll get a random Winston Churchill quote. The quotes are held in an array and there’s only ten of them, so don’t go crazy. The textbook that I learned the code from is JavaScript: A Beginner’s Guide by John Pollock (Fourth Edition).

My Random Winston Churchill Quote for You:

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

Free Book Promotion

Eight Lessons for Young Poets by Sherwin W. Howard has turned into a smash hit during my free book promotion through Amazon’s KDP Select. I gave away 50 books on the first day! The second day I did even better, giving away 359 books. By the end of the 5-day promotion, I had given away 607 books.

You have to remember that all of the eight books I’ve published so far are books of poetry, and there isn’t a big paying market for poetry. So free might be as good as it’s going to get. But this is definitely my best free book promotion ever. (Until now, the most books I’ve given away in five days was around 50.)

It’s interesting to note that the categories I chose in my Kindle Direct Publishing account for Eight Lessons for Young Poets are different from the categories where people seemed to be downloading the book. My categories were:

EDUCATION > Teaching Methods & Materials > Arts & Humanities
EDUCATION > Arts in Education

During my 5-day promotion Eight Lessons for Young Poets ranked #1 in Pedagogy and #2 in Education & Reference! It also achieved a best sellers rank as good as #531 in the Free in Kindle Store category.

  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #531 Free in Kindle Store
  • #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Teacher Resources > Pedagogy
  • #2 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 90 minutes (44-64 pages) > Education & Reference

And these rankings only lasted during the free promotion, but still…. The chart below shows how many books I gave away each day:

free book promotion

I gave away 607 books during my free book promotion.

How I Did It

Was it my cover? Was it my book description? Was it the three awesome book reviews? Or was it the fact that this isn’t your ordinary book — Eight Lessons for Young Poets is actually a book of poems that are intended to teach and inspire others on how to write poetry, so I was able to promote the book under categories other than strictly poetry. Another consideration is that the promotion began right before school starts.

How Did I Get the Book Reviews?

I sent free copies to twelve book reviewers. Three of them posted a review on The reviewers were not paid. They wrote the reviews because they liked the book. The sites where I found the reviewers are The Kindle Book Review and the free reviews page at Tweet Your Books.

Where is all the traffic coming from?

I’m thinking some site with a big emailing list may have added me to one of their outgoing promotions, which would explain the big surge in downloads. When I did a google search for Eight Lessons for Young Poets, the first link on the search was: Customer Reviews: Eight Lessons for Young Poets. This is one of’s pages and features dueling reviews, highlighting the best verses the worst review. So I’m gathering that it’s a good idea to get at least three reviews for your book.

I did another google search for Eight Lessons for Young Poets by Sherwin W. Howard and the fifth link from the top was: Centsless Books | Free Education & Teaching eBooks. I had never heard of this site before, so I clicked on the link and went to their site. My book was featured in the center of the top row of the page with about 100 other books below it. I did not submit my free book promotion to this site in any way.  They just picked it up on their own. So I think it’s cool that they did what they did — all the more publicity for me! Other sites may have linked to my promotion as well.

What I hope to gain from this free book promotion:

1. More positive book reviews posted to the book’s page on
2. More book sales down the road of the author’s other books
3. A fun hobby

How to Fix the Start Tag for Kindle Publication

Question: I formatted my e-Book with Microsoft Word and when I use the KDP online previewer, my book opens on the page before my “start” tag — right in the middle of the table of contents. I tried moving it to different locations but it still doesn’t open where it’s supposed to. How do I fix it?

Answer: Amazon’s guidelines say to insert a “start” tag  <a name=start></a> where you want the book to start, usually at the beginning of the first chapter or section after the table of contents. This code is used as a guide item, so readers can jump to the beginning of the book. For more information on guide items see Amazon’s Simplified Formatting Guide.

I write my “start” tag like this: <section id=”start”></section>. Either way should be fine. But for some reason unknown to me, it seems to stop working in the previewer as soon as you upload your cover. I read somewhere it won’t work again until after you publish it. I tested that hypothesis out on my eighth e-book. I published it and proved the hypothesis to be incorrect — the book opened up in the middle of the table of contents. Of the eight e-books I’ve published, the “start” tag only works correctly on one of my books and I haven’t been able to determine why.

The best solution I know of right now is to simply omit the “start” tag. Then your book will open in the default location which will be either the very first page after the cover or the very first page after the table of contents, depending on what device you are using. Hope this helps.

– jsh